Tag Archives: Mitch McConnell

Self-awareness, Mr. Majority Leader?

I could barely contain myself. I wanted to toss a shoe at the TV set as I listened to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemn what he called “far left” resistance to whomever Donald J. Trump would appoint to the Supreme Court.

Why, he just cannot fathom how these groups could make such judgments without even knowing who the president plans to select.

Wow! Does the majority leader — who made his remarks in a Senate floor speech — not remember what he said immediately after Antonin Scalia died in early 2016, creating a vacancy on the high court?

Let me remind him. About an hour after Justice Scalia died, McConnell declared that no one whom President Obama would appoint would get a hearing and a confirmation vote. He declared the president’s pick dead and buried. Obama had nearly a year left in office when McConnell mounted his successful obstruction campaign.

So now he is accusing lefties of pre-judging any appointment that would come from Donald Trump.

Does anyone else see the irony of this idiocy? He is leveling an accusation against a political opponent that he could have leveled against himself when the previous president sought to fulfill his constitutional responsibility.

This is rich.

Schumer to Trump: Why not select Merrick Garland?

It won’t happen in this universe, but it’s worth calling attention to this strange idea.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — the Senate’s top Democrat — has urged Donald Trump to select Merrick Garland to succeed Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hell would freeze over, Earth would spin off its axis and the sun would rise in the west for that to happen.

However …

Schumer is making the request in the name of national unity. Garland, a centrist appeals court judge, was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — within hours of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — declared any high court nominee Obama would put forward would go nowhere. McConnell announced his intention to obstruct the nomination and confirmation process.

Garland got nominated. His nomination languished. Trump got elected president. The new president nominated Neil Gorsuch, who then was confirmed.

We’re still divided, significantly because of the theft of the Supreme Court seat by McConnell.

Unification could occur if Trump were to follow Schumer’s advice. I mean, Trump has promised unity. Hasn’t he?

It won’t happen. The idea of nominating Merrick Garland does cause a tingle or two among many of us out here. I’m one of them.

Wait for Mueller before making SCOTUS pick?

An interesting idea is being floated by those with some stake in the president’s next selection for the U.S. Supreme Court.

It goes like this: Donald Trump should wait for special counsel Robert Mueller to finish his probe into the “Russia thing” before making his choice known. Think for a moment about this. What if Mueller determines there is some criminality involved in the Trump presidential campaign’s dealing with Russian goons who meddled in our 2016 election? What happens if that case ends up eventually before the nation’s highest court?

Does the president deserve to select someone who might have a material interest in determining the legal fate of a case involving the president, his campaign and, indeed, the presidency itself?

There’s plenty of chatter already that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should allow the midterm election to determine the Senate composition before sending this nomination up for a Senate vote; the Senate must confirm this appointment. McConnell did manage to block President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in early 2016 shortly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama had nearly a year left in his presidency, but McConnell said the Senate needed to wait until the presidential election before considering anyone for the court.

Mueller well might be getting near the end of his exhaustive probe. Should we wait for the special counsel to finish his task and deliver his report to America? Sure. Why not?

Rethinking the notion of ‘presidential prerogative’

I long have believed in the concept of presidential prerogative, meaning that presidents have the right to appoint people to high office assuming those people are qualified to do the job to which they have been appointed.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has disabused me just a little bit from that long held belief.

McConnell ignored presidential prerogative in 2016 when he blocked President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. There was a year left in Obama’s tenure as president; Antonin Scalia had died and Obama selected a true-blue moderate to the highest court in America.

McConnell blocked it. He said the Senate shouldn’t consider a Supreme Court nomination during an election year.

His obstructionism infuriated many Americans. Me included. I believed the president had the right to select whoever he wanted, given that he had been re-elected in 2012. I also have said the very same thing about presidents regardless of party over many years. You can look it up. Honest. I have.

Now, though, we have another president getting ready to select someone to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring at the end of July. I normally would give Donald Trump the green light on this one. Except that McConnell laid down a rule that he forced the Senate to obey in 2016.

Two years later, doesn’t that rule still apply? Hey, what’s good enough then should be good enough now.

Do the people deserve to be heard this time?

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say in February 2016 as it regarded President Barack Obama’s desire to nominate someone to replace the U.S. Supreme Court Justice  Antonin Scalia: The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.

Hmm. What do you think of that?

Here we are, in June 2018. The Supreme Court has just been opened up yet again. Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement. Sen. McConnell said he intends to push for a Senate vote by this fall.

Hey! Wait a minute!

We have an election coming up. One-third of the Senate, which must confirm the next appointee, is on the ballot. It could swing from narrow Republican control to Democratic control after the November midterm election.

Don’t the “American people” have the right to be heard in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice? Don’t they, Mr. Leader?

That was his bogus rationale in blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination from President Obama in 2016. The president had a year left in his tenure. We had a presidential election coming up later that year. McConnell said “no way” on the nomination. He blocked it. He obstructed the president. He then — in a shameful display of a lack of self-awareness — accused Democrats of “playing politics” when they insisted that the Senate hold confirmation hearings and then vote on Garland’s nomination.

If anyone “played politics” with that nomination, it was Mitch McConnell!

Now, the leader wants to fast-track the latest Supreme Court nomination on the eve of an equally important election that could determine the ideological and partisan balance in the body that must confirm this nomination.

Does this election count as much as the 2016 presidential election? Aren’t U.S. senators members of a “co-equal branch of government”? Or is the majority leader going to play politics yet again by ramrodding this nomination through — before the people have the chance to have their voices heard?

Yep, elections do have serious consequences

Oh, brother. Is there any more proof needed about the impact of presidential elections than the decision today handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court?

The high court ruled 5-4 today to uphold Donald J. Trump’s travel ban involving countries from a handful of mostly Muslim countries.

The conservative majority voted with the president; the liberal minority voted against him.

There you have it. Trump’s travel ban will stand. He will crow about it. He’ll proclaim that the court is a body comprising men of wisdom; bear in mind that the three women who sit on the court today voted against the travel ban. Had the decision gone the other way, he would declare the court to be “too political,” he would chastise the justices’ knowledge of the U.S. Constitution (if you can believe it).

The court decision today has reaffirmed the president’s decision to discriminate against people based on their religious faith. Nice.

The partisan vote on the court today also has brought a smile to another leading politician: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose obstructionism in the final year of the Barack Obama presidency denied Trump’s predecessor the right to fill a seat created by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Constitution gives the president the right to nominate judges; it also grants the Senate the right to “advise and consent” on those nominations. The Senate majority leader decided to obstruct the president’s ability to do his job.

President Obama nominated a solid moderate, Merrick Garland, to succeed Scalia. McConnell put the kibosh on it, declaring almost immediately after Scalia’s death that the president would not be able to fill the seat. McConnell would block it. And he did.

A new president was elected and it turned out to be Donald Trump, who then nominated Neil Gorsuch, who was approved narrowly by the Senate. Gorsuch proved to be the deciding vote in today’s ruling that upholds the Trump travel ban.

Do elections have consequences? You bet they do.

Frightening, yes? In my humble view — given the stakes involved at the Supreme Court — most assuredly.

Let the special counsel finish his job

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is getting antsy about the probe being done by special counsel Robert Mueller.

McConnell wants Mueller to finish it up. Call it good now. End it. Move on to the next thing.

I believe the majority leader needs to settle down and needs to let Mueller continue his job at his pace, gathering facts and evidence with all deliberate speed.

Mueller is examining whether Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency included some “collusion” with Russians who meddled in the election outcome in 2016. This is a complicated, tedious, meticulous investigation.

McConnell says it has gone on “forever.” Actually, Mr. Leader, it’s only a little more than a year in progress.

Whitewater? Do you remember that one? The probe that looked initially at a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton plodded along a lot longer than the Mueller investigation has gone. Did the Kentucky Republican senator call for that investigation to end?

Let’s see. Oh, I don’t believe he did.

Donald Trump’s constant yammering about a “witch hunt” has gotten to McConnell. It has spooked him beyond reason. Yes, the majority leader says he supports the Mueller probe. I appreciate McConnell’s statements of support.

However, the former FBI director (Mueller) needs time to finish a complicated investigation into questions that deal fundamentally with the integrity of our nation’s electoral system.

This stuff needs time to sort out.

GOP might produce another election-year goofball

Don Blankenship well might become the new Roy Moore.

It must be “fun” to be a Republican these days. Alabama Republicans nominated Moore, an alleged pedophile, in 2017 as their party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate. Moore ended up losing a special election to Democratic Sen. Doug Jones — and the Republican Party nationally breathed a sigh of relief.

Ahh, but the fun may be starting all over again, in West Virginia.

Don Blankenship, who served time in prison after a mine he owns exploded and killed 29 mine workers, is reportedly surging just ahead of the GOP Senate primary that occurs on Tuesday.

Mainstream Republicans in West Virginia are concerned that a Blankenship primary victory will guarantee the re-election of Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.

Hey, it gets better. Blankenship is not standing still letting the GOP attacks on him go unanswered. He has referred to “Cocaine Mitch” McConnell in describing the Senate majority leader.

Or, as Politico reports: This week, Blankenship began airing a TV commercial labeling McConnell “Cocaine Mitch,” an apparent reference to a 2014 report that drugs were once found aboard a shipping vessel owned by the family of McConnell’s wife, Taiwan-born Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Then, a few days later, Blankenship began airing another spot declaring that McConnell’s “China family has given him tens of millions of dollars.”

Yep! That’s the guy who West Virginia Republicans just might nominate to run for the U.S. Senate this fall.

Ain’t this just a blast?

Whether to protect Mueller … or not

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wields plenty of political clout, but he cannot dictate to all key Senate committee chairs how to run their affairs.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is one who is bristling at McConnell’s reluctance to allow consideration of a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

I’m with Chairman Grassley on this one.

McConnell said he sees “no indication” that Donald Trump is going to fire Mueller, appointed by the Justice Department to lead a probe into alleged collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russians who meddled in our 2016 election.

No indication? How does he know what the president will do? Trump’s own staff doesn’t know what he thinks from one hour to the next, let alone from day to day, or week to week.

Grassley, meanwhile, wants his committee to vote on a bill to protect Mueller from any whims that might cross the president’s mind to fire him. According to The Hill:

“That’s not necessary. There’s no indication that Mueller’s going to be fired. I don’t think the president’s going to do that, and just as a practical matter even if we passed it, why would he sign it,” McConnell told Fox News. 

When Fox News’s Neil Cavuto noted that some Republicans “fear” that Trump will ax Mueller, the GOP leader fired back: “I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor, that’s my responsibility as the majority leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the Senate.”

Grassley responded: “Obviously the views of the majority leader are important to consider, but they do not govern what happens here in the Judiciary Committee. … If consideration on the floor was a standard for approving a bill, we wouldn’t be moving any bills out of this committee.”

Mueller is doing the people’s work in seeking to learn the truth behind whatever, if any, relationship the president had with Russian government oligarchs or others who wanted to interfere in our electoral process.

There can be little doubt about the explosion that would occur if Trump were to do something so foolish as firing Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who selected the special counsel.

So, perhaps Trump ought to consider a bill protecting Mueller a bit of a gift. Thus, he might want to tell the Senate majority leader to let this bill reach the floor and allow senators to approve it.

If there’s nothing to the allegation of collusion — as Trump keeps telling us — let Mueller make that determination all by himself without concern that the president will fire him.

Hold the applause and the back-slapping, Congress

I swear I could hear — even way out here in Flyover Country — the sounds of cheers, backslapping and high-fiving on Capitol Hill.

The U.S. Senate this morning approved a measure that funds the government all … the … way until Feb. 8.

Great, huh? Well, not even close.

The House of Representatives now gets this measure. House members will follow suit. Then it will head to the White House, where Donald John “Dealmaker in Chief” Trump will sign it into law.

What got the deal done? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to allow debate on the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals status in exchange for reopening the federal government that had been shuttered since midnight Friday.

Oh, brother. What a sham!

The president said in September he wanted to disband DACA, but gave Congress until March to find a legislative solution. Congress didn’t get there. Then came the government shutdown game of chicken.

Neither side blinked when the money ran out. The government closed its doors. The blame game commenced.

Now we have Senate Republicans crowing that they got Democrats to accept most of their demands.

To what end? We have yet another temporary repair. Then we get to have another face-off — maybe, perhaps, possibly — on Feb. 8.

DACA screams loudly for a resolution. It involves the status of U.S. residents who came here illegally when they were brought here — as children — by their parents or legal guardians. These young men and women do not deserve to be shipped back to the country of their origin, countries they do not know; they grew up as Americans.

The Trump re-election campaign poisoned the discussion over the weekend by releasing a TV ad that declares Democrats would be culpable if an illegal immigrant commits murder, saying that Democrats would have blood on their hands.

So, here we stand. We’re likely to get the government reopened. DACA will return to the bargaining table. Senators and House members are proud of themselves because they worked hard all weekend to find a solution.

However, it’s another short-term fix.

We need something that we can call the “law of the land.” We need to end this gamesmanship. We need a government that works.

When we arrive at that point, then we can break out the bubbly.